It’s officially official, Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson has named DeShone Kizer the Cleveland Browns starting quarterback for 2017.
Speaking on a Sunday conference call the day after Kizer’s first NFL start — a 13-9 preseason victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday — Jackson intimated his support for his young signal caller.
“The last thing I want to leave you guys with before anybody asks the question, DeShone [Kizer] is our starting quarterback,” Jackson said. “He has earned the right to play through his preparation.”
That preparation and quick learning that Jackson has lauded has put Kizer in position to be the third youngest quarterback to start a Week 1 game since 2000, according to Kevin Cole of Rotoviz.
If Kizer gets the nod, he'll be the third youngest rookie QB to start Week 1 since 2000 pic.twitter.com/hkpx0L8xVe— Kevin Cole (@Cole_Kev) August 24, 2017
But as many believe, including myself, the best way for a young player to learn and develop in the NFL — especially a quarterback — is by gaining valuable experiences on the field on Sundays, not just at practice and in film study.
Jackson made it clear that he subscribes to that developmental approach.
“Obviously, he is a young quarterback and he still has a lot to learn,” Jackson told the conference call audience. “He is going to learn a lot and gain a lot of experience, and the only way you get that is by playing.”
Now, maybe Kizer will struggle some, especially in the beginning when asked to play an entire four quarters against NFL defensive coaches and against all starting caliber players. But those struggles are part of a building process that’ll hopefully help him begin to build towards becoming the team’s quarterback of the future.
Is that kind of patience what Jackson has in mind for Kizer, or is he going to be monitoring him closely, ready to pull him and switch to Brock Osweiler or Cody Kessler if he begins to regret his decision?
“This is not just for the moment. We are going to get with DeShone [Kizer], ride with him through it all and work with him through all of this,” said Jackson. “We are not going to blink about it. We are just going to correct it and keep moving forward.”
Hopefully the second-year head coach’s resolve to stick with Kizer isn’t tested to the point that benching him would even be on the table.
Currently Kizer is an imperfect entity, but he’s a player Jackson clearly believes in and one whose arrow is pointing up.